Internet TaxJust before Congress adjourned for winter recess, the House approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill that also included an extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), which prohibits states from imposing taxes on Internet access. The ITFA had been previously given a temporary extension to December 11, 2014, but last week it was extended further as part of the omnibus appropriations package to fund the federal government through fiscal year 2015. This is good news because consumers will continue reaping the benefits of “tax-free” Internet access.

The not so good news is that the ITFA moratorium is only temporary, and seven states – Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin – are currently exempted from the prohibition. Texas, for example, collects taxes on all monthly Internet access charges over $25. [click to continue…]

JMJ_7441On December 10, 2014, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council celebrated the retirement of esteemed Co-Founder and President Emeritus David Honig and welcomed new President/CEO Kim Keenan with a “Passing the Baton” Reception held at Squire Patton Boggs.  The reception drew over 160 guests, who helped MMTC celebrate its new leadership and honor its legacy.

During the reception, MMTC Board Chair Julia Johnson acknowledged the many esteemed accomplishments Honig achieved over the past 28 years, during which he represented over 70 minority, civil rights, and religious national organizations in selected proceedings before the FCC. Johnson hailed Honig as “one of the most influential communications lawyers of our time who truly cares about closing the digital divide.” [click to continue…]

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 12, 2014):  The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) applauds yesterday’s decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take another step forward in the modernization of its E-Rate program. The approved Order will close the connectivity gap that exists in schools and libraries by increasing funding to purchase broadband connections that can deliver gigabit service over the next five years.

The FCC’s Order reinforces the extension of Wi-Fi service to the nation’s classrooms and requires broadband providers that receive high-cost funding to offer high-speed broadband to local schools and libraries at rates reasonably comparable to similar services in urban areas. MMTC further commends the Commission for recognizing the special broadband needs of urban library systems that serve as the primary providers of free broadband access for children and adults in their communities. [click to continue…]

The following article by MMTC President and CEO Kim Keenan originally appeared on BlackPressUSA.

Net Neutrality Net Equality Connect InternetThe future of the Internet is a hot topic these days. The key issue is what is the right approach to regulate the Internet, where applications are developed, music is shared and people are constantly communicating with one another in real time. At the same time, how do we best expand investment and innovation in the Internet’s infrastructure so that we can sufficiently serve rural communities, urban schools and other groups within our communities that are underserved?

Policymakers, from the White House to Congress, are currently debating four approaches to regulating the Internet: (1) Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure that broadband service is available to “all Americans;” (2) Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, which would reclassify broadband as a public utility; (3) no regulation; or (4) a hybrid approach that would classify Internet service providers (ISPs) as public utilities, but maintain the services of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), such as Comcast, Verizon and others, under Section 706.  [click to continue…]

MMTC BBSJ Summit 2015 Save the Date Banner Registration is OpenOn Wednesday, January 21st, and Thursday, January 22nd, 2015, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council will convene hundreds of media and telecom industry experts, policymakers, innovators, investors, and entrepreneurs to highlight the most far-reaching issues affecting minority entrepreneurs and underserved communities during its 6th Annual Broadband and Social Justice Summit.

BBSJ 2015 will address how experts and policymakers can improve diversity in Silicon Valley and beyond, remove education and health disparities through technology, preserve an open Internet, close the digital divide, and improve the images of people of color in all media. In particular, experts discuss how the process of achieving multicultural digital equality can help to stimulate economic opportunity, create jobs, generate wealth, and prime the pipeline for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). During the Summit, MMTC will announce plans to expand its deep commitment to creating a pipeline for next-generation leaders by strengthening and expanding the organization’s training and professional development programs for communications and social justice lawyers and entrepreneurs.

TED talks and session highlights during the two-day Summit include: [click to continue…]

This article, which highlights MMTC Media and Telecom Brokers’ role in the sale of full-power television stations to minorities, originally appeared on the Official FCC Blog.

TV Station Control RoomIncreasing minority ownership of television broadcast stations has been an often-stated, but elusive goal.  While there is widespread agreement on the need for progress, there has been very little by way of new ideas to solve the twin problems of access and opportunity.  For several years, the only path available to minority entrepreneurs required troubling financial dependency and constrained programming choices.  With the Media Bureau’s approval of several transactions today, however, we see the emergence of new ownership models that will not only bring more independent voices to the station ownership ranks in a manner that promotes diversity, competition, and localism.

Each recent success detailed below is grounded in steps the Commission took this year to rein in abuse of the “sidecar” business model.  This allowed television station owners to structure broadcast transactions in ways that openly circumvented our local TV ownership rule, which generally forbids ownership of more than one station in a local market.  The effect was to deny opportunities for minority ownership and management.  [click to continue…]

Advocacy campaign feeds into anti-immigrant and anti-foreign sentiments

Alibaba Anti Asian AdWASHINGTON – The Alliance for Main Street Fairness, which includes retailers such as Target, J.C. Penney, Walmart and Best Buy, have produced an ad warning that Alibaba, a Chinese company similar to Amazon and eBay, threatens small American businesses. Though Amazon and eBay are these retailers’ real competitors, they chose to target a Chinese company as the face of the “enemy” in gaining public support for Congress to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act.

Today, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC and Minority Media & Telecom Council (MMTC) contacted the Alliance for Main Street Fairness and asked them to pull the ad.

“This type of advocacy preys on American fears of ‘foreign invasion’ and crosses the line,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “These retailers deliberately chose to target a Chinese company as the ‘face’ of the competitor or challenger, rather than another American company. In doing so, they are feeding into anti-immigrant and anti-foreign sentiments. The ad revives the ‘Yellow Peril’ scare tactic that led to the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 and later, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.  We demand that the Alliance for Main Street Fairness abandon this marketing campaign and pull this ad.” [click to continue…]

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition this week previewed confirmed speakers for its Annual Symposium, “The Future of Civil Rights: Moving towards First Class Economic, Political and Digital Citizenship.” On December 4, 2014, the Symposium will be held at Comcast, 300 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Suite 700 in Washington, D.C. from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. On December 5, 2014, the Symposium will be held at the Capital Hilton, 1001 16th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. from 8:30 am – 4:00 pm. An evening “Legacy Affair” reception honoring Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and a special tribute to late DC Mayor, Marion Barry is scheduled for December 4, 2014 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Capital Hilton. Special musical guests will include R&B songstress, Fantasia and gospel recording artist Ricky Dillard and the Ebenezer AME Church Choir.

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition welcome leading civil rights activists, policy experts and government officials to this year’s conference. Highlighting the conference sessions and panels are Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Founder, Rainbow PUSH Coalition; The Honorable Barbara Lee; Jeff Johnson, chief of strategy, Illume communications; Angela Rye, president, IMPACT and political commentator; Reverend Lennox Yearwood, president and CEO, The Hip Hop Caucus; Larry Irving, president and CEO, Irving Strategies and former assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information; Roland Martin, journalist and host, News One Now; Dean Garfield, president and CEO, Information Technology Industry Council; Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee, vice president and chief research and policy officer, Minority Media and Telecom Council; Ambassador Karen Kornbluh, executive vice president, Nielsen and former ambassador, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); Judge Glenda Hatchett, author and motivational speaker; and, Hill Harper, actor, author and social activist.

The Annual Symposium will kick off with a Breakfast Plenary on December 4 discussing “What Ferguson is Teaching Us about the New Civil Rights Struggle, the Media and the Internet,” featuring Reverend Jackson and other distinguished leaders. Day one of the conference will also include discussions about the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley and how to bring about social, economic and political equality for communities of color. Other special events that day include the Legacy Affair, honoring the 30th Anniversary of Reverend Jackson’s Presidential Run, and a full tribute to the late DC Mayor Marion Barry. Twelve leaders that include the Honorable John Conyers; the Honorable Maxine Waters; the Honorable Bobby Rush; the Honorable Frederica Wilson; Donna Brazile, political strategist; and Michael Blake, NYS Assemblyman-Elect, among others, will be honored. [click to continue…]

Giving TuesdayThanksgiving approaches, but in an age of consumerism, it seems many have forgotten that the holiday is meant to be a time spent with loved ones, and to reflect on the things for which we are most thankful. Much of the focus online has been on the increasingly early “Black Friday” store openings – which have begun to bleed into Thanksgiving Day itself – and their effects on the stores’ workers. While it is easy to feel discouraged, one way to emerge from the funk is to shift focus to helping others. Thankfully, a new ‘holiday’ has emerged. New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation have partnered to create #GivingTuesday, a movement that has distinguished the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as a time for people to celebrate and encourage generosity, charitable activities, volunteerism, and advocacy to support nonprofit organizations. Anyone can participate in the movement by donating to charitable organizations and giving back to others, then sharing those experiences with friends and networks on social media using the hashtag. [click to continue…]

Please join the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council in welcoming our new President and CEO, Kim Keenan, and acknowledging the leadership of MMTC’s co-founder and President of 28 years, David Honig, during our “Passing the Baton” Welcome Reception.

Passing the Baton Reception112014 [click to continue…]